In an interview with ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper on “This Week” (27 June 2010), CIA Director Leon Panetta said the last time the CIA had “precise information" on Osama bin Laden was when he left Afghanistan to cross into Pakistan (late 2001).

Recruited by the CIA in 1979, Osama bin Laden - of Yemeni-Saudi nationality and a businessman at the time - was in charge of financing the Afghan Mujahideen against the Communists. He purportedly turned against the United States during Operation Desert Storm (1991), and has been tracked down by the CIA ever since. However, contradicting the official account, he was hospitalised in August 2001 at the American Hospital in Dubai, under CIA protection, where he received the visit of various political figures.

The Agency and the political establishment consider him to be the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks. However, again contradicting the official version, the FBI’s most wanted fugitive list does not feature OBL in connection with 9/11.

Over the past decade, various audio and video tapes have been attributed by the CIA to Osama bin Laden. However, in contradiction with this official story as well, Swiss experts from The Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence established that the tapes were all fake.

Recall that it was on the pretext of avenging the 9/11 victims and of capturing Osama bin Laden that President Bush ordered the Afghanistan offensive. But, in case OBL is not responsible for the attacks, or is no longer in the region, or may even be dead, then the rhetorical justification for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would wither away.